Seeking Camera Buying Advice: Beginner filming small objects & toys

hugalugahugaluga Bountiful, UTRegistered Users Posts: 1 Beginner grinner

I’ve been roaming the internet looking for advice on equipment for filming small scenes featuring toys; I’m hoping I can find some solid answers here.

Background: I have a little bit of photography and filming experience, but I’m basically a beginner.

Budget: Ideally I’d like something around $500, but I’m willing to go up to $1000 if necessary.

I’m going to be filming educational videos for children that feature toys as the set pieces and the actors. I will be filming pretty close up to the toys, I imagine the max frame height would probably be 2-3 feet. It will be live action video most of the time. (I might get a stop motion setup later, but I think it's too time consuming for this project.)

I imagine most of this filming will happen in a small studio space on a table with the camera on a tripod (also to be purchased). I may take the camera out into the wild every once in a while to film in other environments, but it will primarily stay in a studio environment.

I'm guessing I will want to film in 4K so that these videos don’t feel out of date in 5 years. Am I wrong? Will that limit my options? This isn’t a deal breaker for me.

I would like to film live audio as well. I’ve heard having an external mic is best, but should it be connected to the camera or just aligned with the footage in post?

I’ve seen some great camera guides around, but I wasn’t sure if the up close filming would affect my choice. I would appreciate your insights and recommendations on a camera for my requirements. I’d also appreciate any insights you have about other elements like lighting and audio equipment. Etc.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration!

PS – Not required, but it would be a bonus if the camera could also take good photos of my little kids. :)


  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Super Moderators Posts: 22,303 moderator

    If you are doing this for children I suggest segment lengths of not more than 10 minutes. Longer than that you should break the segments apart into logical separate segments, focussing on specific details or elements related to the subject matter.

    If you record audio and video live (which I greatly recommend against unless it is a rehearsed demonstration) then I suggest at least 2 video cameras, to yield 2 different vantages from which to choose. A single camera's vantage gets old very quickly. Just look at a successful children's show to see how often they change cameras.

    Content relevance will change over time. Most of what you capture will probably lose relevance in just a couple of years. (5-year-old toys probably won't be interesting to the current crop of children. They will probably be much more interested in videos about current toys that they see in current advertising. Some exceptions exist, of course.)

    Remember to budget for lighting and for a video editing computer. That $1000 upper limit will hit you very quickly if you buy everything new, especially if you want 4k. Content for young children is not nearly as important as for older children, and if you're shooting for smaller screens, typical tablet to phone sizes, 4k is really not important at all. Interesting content presented in 1080p, essentially 2k, will beat out 4k any time.

    I strongly suggest buying 2 - used Full-HD camcorders, 2 - 6' fluid-head tripods to hold the camcorders, 3-4 video-capable lights (modern daylight-balanced compact fluorescent bulbs in simple Edison fixtures and either using larger reflective umbrellas or larger double-diffused soft-boxes are pretty effective), 2 - 10' lighting tripods with appropriate fixtures/brackets to hold the lights and modifiers and then a decent video editing computer plus video editing software, and you would have a reasonably competent system for $1,000USD-$1,500USD.

    To convince yourself of the need for two cameras and all the rest I recommend, just use a modern smart phone and make a simple video not worrying too much about the lighting or capture resolution. This exercise should demonstrate the basic problems you will encounter with the entire production, regardless of what camera you use for the actual project.

    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
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